At 55, Madam Liaw Lay Kian is a fresh Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) graduate.
Back in 2012, Madam Liaw, then a housewife, decided to study nursing at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) after the deaths of her father-in-law and husband three years apart.
She said: "I carefully considered what I should do after I was no longer a caregiver. In my heart, I felt a strong sense of compassion to care for the terminally ill."
She worked hard and graduated with a high grade point average (GPA) of 3.94, earning herself a Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal. The medal is awarded to a handful of top graduates in each ITE college.
Still, she wanted to improve on her nursing knowledge and enrolled in NP's School of Health Sciences.
On May 3, she received her second Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal, given in polytechnics to the most outstanding graduate formerly from an ITE.
"I was surprised, as I didn't expect to get it again. I just did my best in school," said the mother of two girls. She has graduated from NP with yet another high GPA of 3.9167.
Madam Liaw is one of the 55 mature students above the age of 30 in NP in the last four years. While she studied alongside students much younger, she was not given any special attention.
She said: "I felt like a student as we were all learning and attending tutorials and lectures together. We prepared for exams together too."
A spokesman from NP said there is an increasing trend in admissions of mature applicants, from 0.1 per cent of the total intake in 2013 to 0.5 per cent between 2016 and 2017. NP expects this trend to continue.
"I am always grateful to the Ministry of Education for giving mature students opportunities to continue their education," said Madam Liaw, who is now an enrolled nurse at Dover Park Hospice.
"My ultimate goal is to be a competent nurse who loves and cares for the patients and their families."
Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
Madam Liaw Lay Kian, who is now a nurse.
PHOTO:NGEE ANN POLYTECHNIC